The most important piece of soccer equipment is your footwear; therefore, a good pair of cleats is essential for all players. There are variations of the basic soccer cleat designed for different skill levels, weather conditions, and field types.
Types of Cleats
- Firm Ground (FG) or Molded cleats
- Soft Ground (SG) or Replaceable cleats
- Hard Ground (HG) or Multiground (MG)
- Turf shoes
- Indoor shoes
- Premium Synthetic
Types of Cleats
Footwear for soccer depends on a number of factors: the level of your game, the types of fields you play on, and how much you want to spend. Most leagues require you wear the proper type of soccer cleat during play, so it is most important to understand which type you need.
Firm Ground (FG) or Molded Cleats
- They have the basic soccer shoe design
- Non-removable rubber, or hard plastic formed on the bottom of the shoe is used to help provide traction and control.
- Ideal for beginner and intermediate level players.
- Suited for play on almost all field types and in all weather conditions.
- Required by many youth programs for safety reasons.
Soft Ground (SG) or Replaceable cleats
- They feature studs on the bottom that can be screwed on and off and be replaced easily.
- Cleats vary in length and are usually made of hard plastic or plastic with metal tips.
- The type and length of the studs can be changed depending on the weather and field conditions of that day's game or practice.
- Ideal for experienced players who can tailor the cleats to their playing field and weather conditions.
- Suitable for use on wet, soggy fields, or on well-groomed, soft grass fields.
Hard Ground (HG) or Multiground (MG)
- Created for artificial or hard natural surfaces like artificial turf or solid, sun-baked ground.
- Hard ground soccer cleats generally have a large number of short studs that are usually evenly distributed across the entire outsole.
- They also provide a good option on frozen fields and make a great backup pair for most players.
- Contain various raised patterns on the bottom in place of studs, for use on harder outdoor surfaces and on artificial turf
- Generally good training shoes that could serve as a back-up game pair for hard-surface conditions
- Resemble low-cut, lightweight sneakers
- Designed for playing indoor soccer in a gym or recreational facility
- Feature a flat, rubbery-type bottom for better traction on indoor courts and fields
- Required by many indoor soccer facilities when playing on artificial turf, so the turf does not get torn up
- An important footwear add-on for all soccer players
- Worn before the game to save wear on your soccer shoes
- Easy to slip on and off when soccer socks and shin guards are on
- Allow you to immediately remove your playing shoes after a game to rest your feet
- Many sandals have special massage-type features for the bottom of the foot for added comfort
Soccer shoes come in two basic materials: leather and synthetic. The pair you purchase will largely depend on your skill level and how serious you are about the sport.
- Offer the best feel and fit of any soccer shoe, but are also generally more expensive
- Full-grain leather shoes are strong and durable, while variations such as Kangaroo leather are more flexible and offer an even beter feel
- The softer the leather, the better the feel for the ball, but also the less durable the shoe
- Absorb more water than synthetic shoes and are not recommended for constant use on wet fields; however, water treatment options are available
- The major types of leather uppers are:
- Kangaroo: Kangaroo leather is a soft leather that stretches and molds to the foot. It is the most expensive and results in a pricier boot. It is lightweight and high quality. Shoes made of Kangaroo leather are the most comfortable you will own, however you sacrifice some durability and shoes made of Kangaroo leather usually will not last very long.
- Calfskin /Full-Grain: Calfskin is not supple like kangaroo leather but it is much more durable. It is heavier that kangaroo and will not stretch as much. However it is tough and boots made of calfskin usually fall into the mid-price range.
- Pittards Leather: Pittards leather is only used in Puma shoes. It is calfskin leather that has gone through a patented treatment process. This process gives the leather a water-resistant quality and causes the boot to dry faster. It also retains its softness and stretches less. Shoes made with pittards leather usually fall somewhere in between shoes of Kangaroo and Calfskin in terms of price.
- Ideal for most entry and mid-level players
- Generally less expensive than leather shoes, but do not offer as good a feel and do not last as long as a well-cared for leather boot
- Generally contain some sort of water treatment and therefore last better under poor playing conditions
- Easier to clean and dry out than leather shoes
- With the advances of modern technology premium synthetics have been developed and have been used on many higher level soccer cleats.
- These synthetics are made up of water-repellent micro fibers and are generally very light weight.
- Many times these synthetics are combined with leather for a cleat with optimal fit, comfort on firm and/or natural surfaces.
Determining Your Size
- Soccer shoes are sized like regular shoes, but most are designed with a more narrow upper than typical sneakers to allow for better feel and control of the ball.
- High-quality leather shoes will generally stretch a bit when worn. They will actually mold to the shape of your foot, so they should fit snugly when new.
- Shoes that are too small are one of the major causes of foot pain and problems with athletic footwear; however, soccer cleats should naturally fit more snugly than other athletic shoes because of their design.